Wed 05 Oct 2022

Aussie champ Bates staying optimistic following mixed debut

Australian champion Harry Bates is eyeing up future WRC events following a roller-coaster debut at Repco Rally New Zealand.

“The reality is that the time was lost on day one and a couple of things didn’t go our way as well. We had three punctures this weekend which made life a little bit more difficult, but it is what it is.

"I am happy to be here, fourth in WRC2 and picking up a couple of stage wins along the way. Just to be here and obviously top 10 outright in WRC is a nice little thing as well.”

For Bates, the target is clear as he turns his attentions to 2023 with an eye on more regular WRC2 appearances.

“I would love to [do more in WRC2], it is always just a matter of finding funding for us and that is always a little more difficult from this side of the world.

“We just need to build on the experience we got this weekend and if we can do more of them, we will get better and better and hopefully show what we are capable of.”

WRC2 - Repco Rally New Zealand 2022: Event Highlights

Accustomed to driving in a Toyota GR Yaris AP4 in the Australian national championship, the 27-year-old switched to a homologated Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo for last week's fixture. With limited testing under his belt, it was sometimes a matter of survival in trying weather conditions.

“We only had about 130km [of testing], so nowhere enough to really learn everything we needed to,” the WRC rookie told at the end Sunday afternoon's Wolf Power Stage. “The other thing I guess was the Pirelli tyre. It was the first time I have used it so was also learning what works with that.

“I am currently in the mindset that, if we had Rally New Zealand again next weekend, then maybe I could do it a bit better - but that is life,” pondered Bates.

As well as learning the ropes in new machinery, Bates was under pressure to stay on the road - with a buyer already lined up for his Škoda at the end of the weekend. 

“I feel like we only really got a handle on it [the new car] a day-and-a-half into the rally. That was when we started hitting our straps and setting stage times we were happy with.

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